Valentine’s Day is around the corner! Are you looking for a new gift idea for your loved one other than roses? Why not get creative and design your own succulent garden! Succulent gardens are right on trend for 2018 and have the advantage of staying alive long after they are given or received. They are easy to make, cost about the same or less than a bouquet of roses, and can add something truly unique to the home or workspace. All you need is a pot, a little soil, and some succulents.
So What Are Succulents Anyway?
Succulents are plants with thick leaves that have the ability to store water allowing them to adapt in a variety of environments; you’ll find these resilient plants growing in everything from dry, arid conditions to humid jungles. Succulents come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. They can be as compact as small ground covers or as impressive as giant Agaves. They handle being root bound very well, in addition to all sorts of lighting conditions. All of these characteristics make succulent plants perfect candidates for container arrangement!
Creating the Perfect Succulent Garden
To make a succulent garden you first need to select the right pot. Make sure whichever pot you use has drainage holes at the bottom or is made of material that will allow you to add your own drainage holes. The easiest way to kill a succulent is by overwatering the roots; I’ve witnessed many failed attempts at succulent gardens that were caused by lack of drainage holes. Next, you need a good draining soil. Many nurseries now carry specific potting mix designed for succulents, but you can also use any good quality potting soil. Once you’ve got a pot and soil, it’s time for the fun part: plants! There are no rules here. Have a blast searching through the many different varieties that are available at most nurseries. My favorites are the Echevarias, Sedums and Sade varieties but there are many to choose from and there are no right or wrong choices.
A Few Notes on Design
I recommend using a pot with a neutral color like terra cotta, brown, or black. This will allow you to use a wide variety of colors when choosing your succulents, without having to worry about the colors clashing with the pot. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; I’ve certainly seen many nice arrangements in bright, colorful pots.
Something else to consider when creating your garden is something called plant density: the space between your plants. Keep in mind that succulents grow slowly in a pot so give some thought to how far you want to space your plants apart in the soil. By spreading your plants out you allow for use of things like ornamental rocks, crystals or other decorative features. The use of granite or pebbles as a mulch can make a nice accent. A denser plant spacing plan, on the other hand, will allow for more variety of plants. Again, the choice of design is up to you, but I recommend using plants of different textures, colors, and even heights in combination with one another.
Caring for your Succulent Garden
Whether your succulent garden is for that special someone in your life or you plan to gift it to yourself, it’s worthwhile to know how to care for the garden and share that knowledge with its new owner. Succulents can thrive off little water but it does require occasional watering. I recommend watering once a week after initially planting your garden. Simply check the soil by touch to test for dryness; if it feels dry, water a little. Succulents are not heavy feeders, but the use of a liquid fertilizer once a month will help keep your plants healthy. Most succulents can tolerate low light levels really well, but if you can give your garden a little sun every now and again they will greatly appreciate it.
If you are looking for a creative gift this Valentine’s Day a succulent garden might be just right. Not only are they are colorful, easy to create, and simple to care for but they can also live for a long time! Just make certain that your pot drains well, think a little bit about your design and above all have fun! Happy gardening and Happy Valentine’s Day!
Manager, Big Tex Urban Farms